A big CONGRATULATIONS to our eldest who is heading out to AUT University next year having been accepted into their law school and in winning an AUT Kiwa Scholarship which was announced on her birthday!

This is so significant as the word ‘Kiwa’ is the shortened form of ‘Moana nui a kiwa’ which is the Maori Indigenous name for the Pacific ocean. It is also known as the water continent that Pacific ancestors sailed through to get to Aotearoa and that my parents sailed across when immigrating to NZ in the late 1950s – 1960s for a better future.

This scholarship recognises academic achievement, all-round ability, cultural participation and leadership potential open for all Pasifika secondary students in New Zealand with Pasifika heritage.

The hard work has paid off and our eldest can now go into her last year at high school with external exams content in knowing that the last three years hard slog has put her in good stead for a solid first year at Uni. As a parent and Alumni of Auckland Uni, of course, I wished that she would go there for her undergraduate studies but have instead left this decision to her as I’m also an alumni of AUT and wish our eldest the best in all her endeavours.

As a leader and teacher, it’s also about giving our children or students many potential pathways of access to higher education that they must ultimately choose from. In saying this, whilst in Samoa, I was still writing letters of recommendation for some of my students who wanted to pathway into the Masters of Applied Indigenous Knowledge course as some had years of experience in Indigenous knowledge and others already with degrees, etc.

One thing that I’m always conscious of is that educational qualifications do not make a person better than others. I only have to think about my hardworking parents and the sacrifices that they made for me and ultimately for our children in now having stability in our lives with a home and foundation church in NZ and a home in Samoa, through hard work in serving their communities. They did it despite not having academic qualifications.

Other values that I learned through my parents and especially my father was learning about humility in having achieved academically and not be arrogant. I’ve also learned in becoming a leader that it’s not about staying there, by myself, but in giving a helping hand for many others to also achieve. At present, I’m awaiting the results of seven students who graduated from my class and were accepted into the Master’s 2-year cohort degree to see if they will all graduate next year. My beloved has completed and he is one of them.

So to our eldest, I wish her all the best, that she keeps the Christian and Samoan values that we’ve taught her: to walk humbly and not arrogantly (with me in the background discussing) and to enjoy working hard towards achieving and then to help someone/others along the path in never forgetting where you came from and those who helped you to get there i.e. leaning on the shoulders of giants (our pioneering parents who came from Samoa). That’s what true achievement is really about…